The Comets are prepared to kick off their 5th anniversary season on September 30, with a home preseason game vs. the Syracuse Crunch. For the third time in the history of the Comets’ preseason, they will host this game at John F. Kennedy Arena in Rome, NY.
The third annual preseason game at Kennedy Arena is yet another milestone that the Comets will accomplish heading into their 2017-18 season. As Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium continues to evolve, with a new name and a 26,000-square foot addition, the Comets continue to place value in tradition, and building on existing relationships throughout the community.
The first home preseason game in Utica Comets history on September 29, 2013 took place at Kennedy Arena, where 1,200 fans packed into the venue to witness the Comets’ first steps onto the ice in their white, blue, and green uniforms. Fans were elated as they also experienced the first win in Comets history, 4-2 over the Adirondack Phantoms. The Comets returned to Utica’s neighboring city on October 3, 2014 to kick off their second season, where they once again defeated the Adirondack Flames, 4-2.
In a joint decision by the Comets and their NHL affiliate, the Vancouver Canucks, all proceeds of the Kennedy Arena preseason games have been donated back to Kennedy Arena and the City of Rome, in an effort to build on the relationship between the two organizations. Kennedy Arena, which opened in 1964, has hosted a variety of hockey and figure skating events, and is also home to the Rome Free Academy Varsity Hockey Team. The arena also underwent extensive renovations back in 2008, which were completed in 2011 and consisted of improvements to the overall facility, warming room, concession area, and more.
Bringing their home preseason game back to Rome was an easy decision for Comets President Robert Esche, who’s family grew up in Rome and consistently looks for ways to tap into their Comets fan base.
“Growing up, I spent a lot of my time in Rome with my family, and I am a true believer in collaborating with them to highlight professional hockey in the Mohawk Valley,” said Esche.
Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo is also thrilled to have the Utica Comets back in the City of Rome.
“The City of Rome is thrilled to be a part of kicking off the Utica Comets preseason with an exhibition game at Kennedy Arena,” said Izzo. “We are proud to be a part of everything happening in the Mohawk Valley from a tourism standpoint and this game just adds more excitement throughout the County as the Comets build toward another exciting AHL season. We thank the Vancouver organization for generously donating the proceeds from the game to the Kennedy Arena which will assist the city to continue making capital improvements to our widely used public skating facility.”
Jim Korpela, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Rome, shared in the Mayor’s sentiments.
“The City of Rome is excited to host the AHL hockey game between the Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch. Rome has a long hockey tradition and we are honored that Rob Esche and his staff picked the Kennedy Arena to host the Comets only preseason home game,” said Korpela. “We are expecting a capacity crowd Saturday night and we are sure that the fans will see some great hockey.”
Saturday’s contest has the potential to be the most impactful preseason game at Kennedy Arena in its history, as the Comets will face off against their thruway rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. The Comets and Crunch are separated by only 55 miles, and have built an organic rivalry throughout their four years in the league thus far.